Sep 27, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Nerlens Noel (4) and point guard Michael Carter-Williams (1) during a media day photo shoot at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
After watching the Sixers get manhandled by the Milwaukee Bucks while sitting courtside the other night, I speak for Sixers’ fans worldwide when I say that this season can’t end soon enough. While I completely agree with re-building from the bottom and the trades that sent Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes elsewhere, the product on the court right now is simply hard to watch.
With that said, I took it upon myself to look forward a little bit.
As it stands, Brett Brown’s starting five is as follows:
Point Guard: Michael Carter-Williams
Carter-Williams is the favorite to run away with the NBA Rookie of the Year honors. After being selected 11th overall in last June’s draft, MCW has made a name for himself as one of the most promising young talents in the Association. It all started in his NBA debut against the two-time defending champion Miami Heat, when he posted an impressive stat line of 22 points on 6-of-10 shooting, 12 assists, seven rebounds, and a rookie-record nine steals.
While the rookie point guard from Syracuse has shown us flashes of brilliance, he has also shown plenty of evidence that he is still just a rookie that is still learning the speed of the game. Turnovers — while not much of a problem early in the season, have become a concern for MCW. While one has to believe those numbers will go down when surrounded by more talent, taking care of the ball still needs to become more of a priority for the young stud.
Shooting Guard: Tony Wroten
Tony Wroten was acquired from the Memphis Grizzlies for virtually nothing after Sam Hinkie was brought on as the new general manager. To be exact, Memphis got a top-55 protected draft pick from the Sixers in exchange for Wroten. In reality, that pick will probably never be sent over to Memphis. The lefty combo guard was selected with the 25th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft after one season at Washington.
On a positive note, Wroten’s quickness and slashing ability has been on display from day one. He has averaged 13 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per contest as Brett Brown’s sixth man. However, he has excelled on a completely different level, particularly when filling in for Michael Carter-Williams.
While there have been plenty of reasons to believe that Wroten can contribute at the NBA level, there have also been plenty of red flags. The most crucial one has been turnovers. In 51 games played, he has averaged nearly as may turnovers as assists, proving that his point guard skills are far from developed.
Small Forward: James Anderson
James Anderson is another player that has shown flashes at times during this season, but like most on the Sixers’ roster, he has been consistently inconsistent. His best game as a professional came in mid-November against the contending Houston Rockets, when he posted 36 efficient points on 12-of-16 shooting, including 6-of-8 from deep.
At times during this season, Anderson has found himself on the bench for Brett Brown. It seems as though the benching has affected Anderson in a positive way however. He has played himself back into the starting five by attacking the rim more frequently instead of simply spotting up for three-point attempts.
Power Forward: Thaddeus Young
Thad Young is the only remaining player, other than Jason Richardson, on the roster from last year’s team. Despite being the only consistent player on the floor for the Sixers, there was speculation that he may be moved, perhaps to San Antonio, at the trade deadline. Instead, Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes found new homes while Sam Hinkie decided to hold onto Young for the time being.
Effort and energy is what makes Thaddeus such a likable player. Regardless of the score, the team’s record, or the situation, he never stops competing at either end of the floor. Brett Brown and the rest of the Sixers’ front office can only hope that the intangibles that he possesses rub off on the younger guys.
In 55 games this season, Thad is averaging over 17 points and six rebounds to go along with a PER of 17.67. In addition, he has been getting it done at the defensive end, compiling over two steals per contest.
However, it is unlikely that the only veteran player remaining in the Sixers’ rotation fits into their future plans. Despite all of his production and becoming a fan favorite, it would be shocking if Thad plays his home games in Philly past this season.
Center: Arnett Moultrie
After showing flashes of potential late in his rookie season despite spending the majority of his time in the D-League, Moultrie sparked some excitement in the Sixers’ fan base. However, that was short lived. Moultrie has played in just seven games this season and has done nothing to impress in the 19 minutes of run he’s getting per night thus far.
Moultrie was the “prized” possession from the 2012 draft — the last of the Doug Collins’ regime. Collins traded up to select Moultrie with the 27th pick. After shooting a sky-high percentage a season ago, he has made just a third of his shots in 2014.
It appears that the Moultrie that we saw at the end of last season’s nightmare was just a dream, and he has little to offer in terms of a rebuilding process. Luckily for us, Nerlens Noel will step on the floor next season, if not by the end of this one.
Reserves: Brandon Davies, Lorenzo Brown, Hollis Thompson, Elliot Williams, Eric Maynor, Byron Mullens, Henry Sims
As you read that list, and be honest, what named stood out? While it’s not a surprise coming from a 15-43 team in the lowly Eastern Conference, but none of the names above project to be an above-average NBA starter or even a Sixth Man of the Year candidate.
More than likely, the majority of those names likely won’t be on the roster come next season. Outside of Hollis Thompson and Elliot Williams, there have been very minimal contributions from the Sixers’ bench. Thompson and Williams may have a chance to stick around given the fact that the team will still be quite far away from being contenders. If Hinkie and Brown feel as though these two guys can develop into even solid role players on a consistent basis, I fully expect to see them in a Sixers’ uniform for the 2014-2015 campaign.
Davies fouls more often than he scores, Brown has spent more time traveling back and forth from Delaware to Philly than he has on the court, Maynor has fallen off the face of the Earth the past few seasons, and Henry Sims has failed to contribute in even the smallest of ways since his Georgetown career came to an end.
Introducing the 2014-2015 Sixers
- Michael Carter-Williams
- Tony Wroten
- Nerlens Noel
- Hollis Thompson
- Arnett Moultrie
- Jabari Parker/Andrew Wiggins/Other top pick
- Pelicans’ first-rounder
- 438282346245 second-round picks
- Young free agent
- Young free agent
- Young free agent
- Young free agent
I know that list lacks any huge surprises. Still, that list should excite Sixers’ fans. The potential for a team that consists of the favorite for Rookie of the Year, the consensus top NBA prospect of the 2013 draft, a potential top-three pick in a loaded draft, another lottery pick, along with a bunch of other young players that Brett Brown will be in charge of developing is limitless.
Regardless of the outcome of next season, the fan base should be blessed with flashes of plenty of upside along with countless mind-boggling mistakes. While it would be foolish to guarantee a championship, or even a playoff birth for that matter, Hinkie and his magical little elves have put the franchise in a position that they can put an exciting brand of basketball in the near future.